The fat lady is raring to go as the Miami Heat has a commanding 3-0 series lead and are looking to end the Milwaukee Bucks’ playoff run Sunday, April 28.
That shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise as Miami had the best regular season record at 66-16 and so claimed home-court advantage for the course of the playoffs. Milwaukee on the other hand is the worst team taking part in the postseason festivities with a 38-44 record. Put two and two together and it’s not really much of a shock that the league’s best team are on the verge of a first-round sweep against the sub-.500 underdogs.
The Heat vs. Bucks series is pretty much done and dusted but here are some things we’ve learned from it.
The Birdman effect
Chris Andersen is the unsung hero of this Miami Heat team. The fans and coaches love him because he plays as hard as anyone on the court and he’s been one of coach Erik Spoelstra’s most important reserve players. That’s saying something considering the caliber of players available on the Heat bench.
Miami’s biggest issue has been their lack of size off the bench and teams have dominated them on the boards, as shown by the fact that their 38.6 rebounds a game was dead last in the NBA. So far in this series, Andersen has no less than six rebounds a contest in just 14.3 minutes a game and Miami has yet to lose a rebounding battle against the fifth-best rebounding team.
The cherry on top of the icing for Miami: He’s scored double-digit points in each of the last three contests and has made 13-of-15 shot attempts.
Miami has become infamous for their slow starts throughout the 2012-13 season and they’ve continued that trend in the playoffs so far.
The storyline is always the same. Milwaukee comes out firing and succeeding for the most part as they manage to stay with the defending NBA champions. Then comes the final moments of the third quarter and the Heat flip the switch, picking up the intensity defensively and the Bucks start shooting bricks.
Game 3 is a perfect example as they shot 57 percent in the first half, but couldn’t buy a bucket in the second and Miami closed out the third quarter on a 17-3 run.
In Game 1, it was a 9-0 run that started Milwaukee’s downfall when they were within four points in South Beach. And in Game 2, it was a 12-0 run to start the fourth quarter as Miami held them scoreless in the first two minutes or so.
However, against a good team, they may end paying for their slow starts.
Before the beginning of this first-round matchup, Brandon Jennings made a bold statement, claiming that the Milwaukee Bucks would win the series in six games. That hasn’t quite come to fruition, but it wasn’t for lack of trying.
In Game 1, Jennings was out on a mission in South Beach, scoring 18 points in the first half and really walking the walk. However, that all fizzled out in the second as he was held to just eight points by that stifling Miami defense. Nonetheless, his backcourt partner in crime, Monta Ellis, had a pretty good game himself, providing another 22 points. Problem is they had just five assists between them.
Yes, Jennings and Ellis are the key for Milwaukee and they must have big–or even monstrous–games for them to even stand a chance against the league’s best. With that said, they also can’t neglect the fact that there are three other people on the court with them. And they can’t hope to beat a team with Miami’s the defensive star power with just one-on-one basketball.
Milwaukee can’t succeed with both players on the court, especially when the two primary ball handlers choose to keep the ball for themselves.
A good supporting cast can take you a long way
Ellis and Jennings are the crucial figures for the Bucks, but the supporting cast is just as important and both sets of players just haven’t been able to put it together.
In Game 1 it was Jennings and Ellis having big games scoring 48 points between them; the rest of the team had just 39 points. In Game 2, they combined for just 15 as Jennings struggled, shooting just 3-for-15, while Larry Sanders, Mike Dunleavy and Ersan Ilyasova had 14, 16 and 21 points respectively.
Miami on the other hand has had at least five players scoring double digits in each of the last three games. If they continue to play this well as a team then no one can stop them.
Dwyane Wade – Don’t forget about me!
Offensively, Dwyane Wade had a night to forget going 1-for-12 from the field for just four points while turning the ball over six times.
From reading that stat line, you probably think he was ineffective, right? Well, not quite.
Wade was one rebound shy of a double-double, after racking up 11 assists and nine rebounds, six of them on offense. He was also a beast defensively, ending the night with five steals and two blocks.
He may only be averaging 13.7 ppg so far, but by no means is he done.